Friday, August 10, 2012

Michael Carroll

Omar Carroll
At the age of 13, Tina Marie Jones was a pretty girl, tall and slender with a smile that would light up anyone’s day. She dressed smartly, but inexpensively, wearing the “in” clothes of girls her age. She kept her glistening brown hair short and part­ed in the middle, and often wore long, dangling earrings that went well with her height. She was attractive as she carried herself gracefully down the street, and anyone meeting her and noticing that gleam in her eyes would likely think that she had no problems at all.
However, beneath that positive and attractive facade, Tina was a troubled girl who reached out for affection, her­self radiating with love but rarely receiv­ing it in return. She was more trusting than most girls her age because of her craving for that elusive affection, a fact which may have contributed, albeit indi­rectly, to her untimely death when the person she met up with didn’t get his way with her.
It was around 3 o’clock Sunday after­noon, December 29, 1985, when Tina told her foster mother that she was going for a walk with a new friend she’d met.
As she pulled on a warm coat, got her scarf and hat, she said she’d be back in time for dinner, about 5:00 p.m. Because of her troubled past and the fact that she was new to the neighborhood, her foster mother naturally wanted her to make new friends, and had no objections to her go­ing for the walk. However, when dinner time arrived, Tina had not returned home.
It was already dark by 5:00 p.m., and the forecast called for more freezing rain in the Portland area. The temperature was still above freezing, but it was drop­ping fast. Tina had dressed accordingly, and her foster parents had every reason to believe she would return home at any moment. Tina was always punctual and true to her word. But as the minutes ticked by, there still was no sign or word from her. Worried and fearing for her safety, Tina’s parents called the Port­land Police Bureau.
The officers were quick in responding to the call for assistance, and they arrived at the home of Tom and Michelle Mayer, Tina’s new foster parents, located in the 1000 block of Southeast Lambert Street in Portland, within a short time after re­ceiving the dispatch.
Mrs. Tom Mayer told the officers that she’d last seen Tina shortly before 3:00 P.m., and explained that Tina had met a boy named Mark, or Mike. Mrs. Mayer said she didn’t know for certain where Tina and the boy were going, but she told them that Tina said they were going for a walk. Mrs. Mayer told the officers that Tina liked to walk in an area known as Oaks Bottom, one of the few remaining wildlife habitats on the Willamette Riv­er.
The Mayers told the officers that Tina had been visiting them for three months, staying with them on weekends and holidays since October 1st so they could be­come better acquainted and determine whether or not they were compatible enough for a foster parents-daughter re­lationship.
“We just had a foster son move out, and we wanted to feel our way to see if she could fit into our family and to see if it would be as good for her as it would be for us,” said Tom Mayer. They hit it off well and, after becoming acquainted, said Mayer, he and his wife decided to “go for it” and on December 20th Tina moved into their home. Mayer described the girl as a “really neat kid” who had been deprived of family love for much of her life. Mayer provided the officer with a recent photograph of Tina, and the offi­cers assured the worried parents they would do all they could to locate Tina. In the meantime, all they could do was wait.
Copies of the girl’s photograph were distributed to police officers citywide, along with an alert and her physical de­scription. Cops assigned to the Southeast Portland neighborhood where Tina dis­appeared were ordered to stay particular­ly alert for the girl, and to make inquiries in the neighborhood where she lived.
Meanwhile, a special team of officers was formed to search the rough terrain of Oaks Bottom since it was known that she liked to go there. It was possible, the cops reflected, that she had met with an accident. No one, at this stage, wanted to consider that she had met with foul play although that, too, was a real possibility. However, after an exhaustive day-long search of the wildlife refuge, there was no sign of the girl or her friend.
As the investigators probed Tina’s background they learned that she had a long history of sexual abuse, the primary reason that she had been placed in foster homes at an early age. Although she had been living at a school for emotionally disturbed youngsters located on the campus of a Lake Oswego private col­lege, Tina had just entered the fifth grade at Forest Hills Elementary School, also in Lake Oswego. Because of having been academically deprived, the detec­tives learned, Tina was placed with stu­dents three years younger than herself. However, according to a school official, Tina knew that with hard work she would eventually be placed with students her own age.
“She was making really tremendous academic progress,” a school official told investigators. “She saw the light at the end of the tunnel.” Having been very successful in the residential treatment program, she was able to move on. Specifically, the detectives were told, Tina had begun a program in October in which she spent part of her days in a special resource room at the elementary school and another part of her day in the fifth- grade classroom.
Having successfully completed the residential treatment program where oth­er 9-to-15-year-old boys and girls with similar problems hoped to eventually be placed in foster homes, Tina received her placement on December 20th when she moved into the Mayer home. At the same time, she had been placed in the special education class to help fill what educa­tors termed “holes in her background from inconsistent schooling.” Also in her educational plans was eventual placement in the Portland Public School system.
In addition to questioning Tina’s fos­ter parents and the educators who had worked closely with her, the in­vestigators also interviewed her closest friends, classmates, and known relatives as part of their follow-up to the initial missing-person report. Some were in­terviewed numerous occasions, but as one day followed another, the detec­tives’ efforts seemed in vain, as there was no sign or word of the missing girl.
There was nothing in Tina’s back­ground to indicate that she had run away from her new home, as she had made a rapid adjustment to the Mayers and had even developed a close bond with them. Because no one that the detectives talked to had seen her, they had to rule out that she was staying with anyone she knew or was related to. Likewise, she had not been spotted on the streets. So where was she? The detectives wondered. Could she have been kidnapped?
Efforts to locate the teenage boy she had last been seen with also proved fu­tile. Since she had met him only a short time before she left with him, none of her classmates had any idea as to his identi­ty. Unfortunately, the detectives knew him at this point only as Mike or Mark which, admittedly, wasn’t much to go on.
However, because the teenage boy had been seen in the neighborhood with Tina shortly before she disappeared, police artist worked up a good composite sketch of the boy being sought for questioning. It was distributed throughout t: area, shown to Tina’s friends, relatives, and classmates, and placed in local papers. He was described as between lb and 18 years of age, short brown hair and eyes, medium height and weight, glasses, with pimples on his face. However, the detectives’ efforts to generate new leads proved fruitless at this point in the case.
“We’ve begun showing the composite around,” said one official close to t case, “but we haven’t come up with who it is yet. We’re seeking to identify him we can talk to him. We have absolute no useful witnesses at this time.”
Although police officials said that the department had received more than 100 telephone calls from people wanting to help with the case, none yielded any in­formation that could produce firm leads. With no witnesses, no body, and no crime scene to search, it appeared that the trail had become cold in Tina’s case. However, the dedicated sleuths per­severed just the same by doing the rou­tine but necessary legwork and many interviews associated with this type of case hoping, of course, that their work would eventually yield the information that would tell them what happened to Tina.
As the case continued, additional in­vestigators were assigned full-time to look into the mysterious disappearance of Tina Marie Jones. However, no mat­ter how many telephone tips and leads they ran down, no matter how many in­terviews they conducted, it simply seemed as if they were going in circles, always ending up back at square one with the unexplained disappearance of a young teenage girl who seemingly van­ished into thin air while out for a Sunday afternoon walk.
Additional searches were conducted of Oaks Bottom, but it was a large area difficult to get into and out of, making efforts wearisome. But with few leads and virtually nowhere else to turn, search efforts continued in the Oaks Bottom wildlife refuge by members of Port­land Police Bureau Explorer Post 701.
The searchers organized themselves into groups and began a sector search of the area that was similar to prior search­es. As they cut, sawed and hacked their way through the thick brush and under­growth, the Explorer Scouts covered lots of new ground as well as some that had been gone over previously. Although their efforts seemed futile, they finally found what everyone hoped they wouldn’t.
It was just minutes before noon when one of the searchers called out that he had found a girl’s body. The group’s leader was there in seconds, and he quickly confirmed that the girl was dead. He could see that it was Tina Marie Jones, as he had memorized her facial features from the photographs he’d seen. Be­cause of the wounds to her neck and upper torso, he was equally certain that she’d been murdered, very likely stab­bed. And because of her partially clad body, the motive appeared to be sexual assault, or attempted sexual assault. Homicide detectives from Central Pre­cinct were promptly notified of the grim discovery.
Detective Jim Bellah arrived at the crime scene a short time later, as did Multnomah County Deputy District At­torney Norman W. Frink, Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Larry Lewman and a team of criminalists from the Ore­gon State Police (OSP) crime lab. The body was photographed at the crime scene, after which it was strapped to a gurney and pulled by ropes out of the deep ravine and taken to the Multnomah County Morgue.
Crime lab technicians worked throughout the day collecting evidence, much of which consisted of blood-soaked soil. They also retrieved clothing fibers that had snagged on the brush which, hopefully, could prove useful in placing a suspect at the crime scene if the fibers were determined to be foreign to the vic­tim, searchers, and the support per­sonnel. All of their clothing would have to be tested and ruled out, and that which remained unidentified, if any, could prove useful in court if linked to a sus­pect. They also searched for the murder weapon, believed to have been a knife or similar sharp object, but authorities would not immediately comment if a weapon was recovered from the scene.
News of Tina’s murder spread fast throughout the city, and feelings ranging from anger to sadness were expressed by residents of the southeast Portland neigh­borhood she’d just moved into. Most of the sadness, however, was felt by Tina’s newly-appointed foster parents.
“Much we cannot say,” said Michelle Mayer, “because we were court-appoint­ed to provide her with a foster home. But she was a victim of heavy sexual and physical abuse over a long period…Tina had a real rough life, rough and short- …She was a victim of very severe depre­dation. She had few life skills, no cogni­zance of time or direction or the handling of money. Her vocabulary was limited. She was thirteen going on eight, yet she had come through all of that abuse, a life of tragedies, and she was caring, eager, sincere; a neat, neat kid. All she needed was someone to love her. She had been making progress for a long time, even before she came to live with us. She was like a bud, slightly wilting, which with a little care would blossom. As she began to blossom, the bud was snipped off.”
“She was a little angel,” said Tom Mayer. “That’s what makes it so sad. You couldn’t think of a bad thing to say about her. She was just looking for love.”
Introducing a motion to remand Car­roll to adult court, Deputy District Attor­ney Keith Meisenheimer said that the youth knocked Tina Jones down from behind and stabbed her in the throat after she had refused to remove her blouse at Carroll’s request. Meisenheimer said that Tina offered “no form of resistance or provocation” to the defendant.
“His troubles are not a brief aberra­tion,” said Meisenheimer. “They have been brewing for a long time.” Meisenheimer said that some of Car- roll’s problems were likely the result of a broken family life in which he was sub­jected at times to “harsh and inconsistent discipline.”
Urging the judge to allow Carroll to remain in the juvenile system, St. Helens defense attorney Robert Lucas said that the youth was immature and would likely be harmed by other inmates at the state prison if convicted and sentenced.
“Mike probably could lead a very nor­mal life with medication and counseling and treatment up front,” said Lucas. He further argued that if Carroll was still considered dangerous at age 21, the age at which authority of the juvenile system expires, he could be committed to the state hospital for additional treatment.
“There simply isn’t time in the juven­ile system to do anything,” said Judge Herrell, citing the psychologist’s esti­mate of three to six years of treatment. Herrell said that the juvenile system wasn’t designed for long-term mental health treatment programs for defen­dants involved in serious crimes. With that, Herrell ordered that Carroll be re­manded to the adult court system.
The state presented its evidence in the case to a grand jury, and Carroll was swiftly indicted on a charge of murder. However, the case did not go to trial. Instead, Carroll announced that he wished to enter a guilty plea to the charge.
On Tuesday, August 12, 1986, Omar Michael Carroll appeared before Circuit Judge William C. Snouffer and said that he had chosen to plead guilty to satisfy his parents. His attorney had originally intended to pursue an insanity defense.
“It’s not what I really wanted to do, sir, but what I wanted to do most is please my parents,” said Carroll. The judge then informed him that a guilty plea must be based on the defendant’s own decision, not on a decision made by others. “I have made my decision to plead guilty,” responded Carroll.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday, September 16, 1986, Carroll appeared in court nervously turning a copy of the New Testament in his hands. Prior to meting out sentence, however, Judge Snouffer heard testimony from high school and religious counselors, a deputy district attorney, and the detectives.
According to a high school counselor as well as a church counselor, Carroll had spoken with each about desiring to have a girlfriend but was unable to get one be­cause he didn’t know how to talk to girls. The counselors said they thought Carroll was “reaching for help” when he talked with them in November and December, 1985, and the school counselor told the judge that she had recommended that Carroll see a social worker at his high school during the following January. A social worker was not on the school staff in December, prior to the murder, be­cause of budget cuts. Both counselors said, however, that Carroll had never ex­pressed feelings or thoughts about vio­lence.
Deputy District Attorney Norman W. Frink Jr. told the judge that there was ample evidence that Carroll had engaged in sexual fantasies for years in which he imagined that a character he named “Ra­zor” would have sex with women and then kill them with a knife or a sword.
“(He’s) one of the most dangerous people I’ve ever talked to, if not the most dangerous,” said Detective Larry Findl­ing, who said he’d obtained a confession from Carroll. Findling said he had based his conclusion on Carroll’s “totally de­tached” description of the attack on Tina. Findling told the judge that Carroll had told him he was “exploring his dark side” when he stabbed Tina in the neck and back. “He saw an opportunity to go on the bad side and see how it felt,” Findling said Carroll told him.
Carroll faced the judge and said that he would not have killed Tina had he known that she was “turning her life around.” He also said he believed that God had forgiven him for killing the girl after she refused his sexual advances, but Carroll added that he had not yet forgiven him­self. “That will be hard,” he said. “I will stay in prison as long as I am a danger to society,” he said, adding that he wanted mental treatment.
Judge Snouffer then sentenced Mi­chael Carroll to life in prison, with a minimum of 25 years before becoming eligible for parole. At the time of sentencing, Carroll was on a waiting list for mental health treat­ment. The actual time served is a State Parole Board decision.
Editor’s Note:
Tom and Michelle Mayer are not the real names of the persons so named in the foregoing story. Fictitious names have been used because there is no reason for public interest in the identities of these persons.


  1. I grew up with Michael. We went to the same church, Sunday School and all that. My parents bought a restaurant with his parents. I remember hearing about this and everyone was kind of shocked, but not totally. He was a very weird kid. I agree he got twisted because of his parents though, they were twisted people too. Weird people. Sad story all around.

  2. I also grew up with Michael, very sad story indeed! We went to the same church too, how weird is all of this. Wow!

  3. i went to school with him he was a very werid kid he had a wicked step mother who was a school teacher at the same school he went to no one like her she was a very mean teacher he was trying to ask for help but no one would help him the counsler at school suck they never cared about the students i think his dad should have been there for him and told that step mom were to go and how to get there he had no one i think his parent and the counselor should have gotten into some trouble for ignoring shame on his parent